How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Tired of coming home to a house that's cold at the end of a long day? Dread getting out of bed just to get up and kick the heater on? Then you're a candidate to install a programmable thermostat on your heater. Most of these thermostats allow you to program chances in temperature for settings such as home, away, day and night. If your family has a routine, you can program your thermostat to cool and heat as needed. Because a programmed thermostat should help you keep your home warm only when you're home, it can be a great way to actually cut your heating costs-while making you more comfortable in the meantime. Installation is easy.



  • Screwdriver
  • Level
  • Wire stripper


  • Programmable thermostat

Note: If you have a heating pump, you should check with a heating contractor before installing a programmable thermostat, as it can actually wind up giving you a higher heating bill.

Note: When buying your thermostat, make sure to get one that is compatible with your current system's electric current. Most systems use 15- to 30-volt wires; don't try to connect one to a 120-volt system.

Jane Tip: When shopping for your programmable thermostat, you may want to consider purchasing a model that is compatible with your home computer system. This will give you the ability to control the temperature of your home no matter where you are!

Step 1
Shut off your furnace (turn the knob to pilot position) and the electricity coming to the thermostat (turn off the breaker).

Step 2
Remove your old thermostat. To do this, you have to unscrew it from the wall. Most thermostats have a facing that must be pulled off to reveal the screws holding them in place. Once you find them, remove them and pull the thermostat off the wall.

Step 3
The thermostat should now be connected to the wall only by the wires attached at the back. Release them with a flathead screwdriver and remove the old thermostat.

Step 4
Pull the wires through the new base plate. Place the plate up against the wall and use a level to make sure it is level. Attach the plate to the wall using mounting screws, leaving them slightly loose. Check the level again before tightening the screws to the wall.

Step 5
Attach the wires to the appropriate terminals. Typically, the wires are color coded and follow the color coding on your thermostat. Use your wire strippers to expose the copper wire and attach them by creating a hook to fit under the screw terminals and tighten them in place. Push the excess wire back through the hole in the wall.

Step 6
Put the faceplate on the base; it should just snap in. It should turn on quickly. Now all you need to do is to program it to fit your needs. Review the manufacturer's instructions on how to do this. Over the next few weeks, adapt the temperature and settings until you don't notice the variations in temperature.

It may seem a small factor in creating a warm and inviting home, but a continuously comfortable temperature will make a big difference for both your home and your wallet.

For more great project ideas and inspirational stories like this, please check out our new book, Be Jane's Guide to Home Empowerment, available in stores and online now.

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